"We only bought it for the articles."
Since it inception in 1953, this was the (often true) explanation for picking up a copy of Playboy Magazine. Over the years, the enticing mix of titillation, culture, and intellectual writing kept the population entertained and informed. The magazine also provided an influential outlet for artists and illustrators to earn their living. From 1963 to 1988, Mr. Gorey illustrated a number of stories in Playboy. What is Life? a work of fiction by Robert Sheckely appeared in the December 1979 issue.
As a humorous aside, Mr. Sheckley's 1968 novel Dimension of Miracles has been cited as an inspiration for Douglas Adams' 1978 novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Adams claimed in interviews to have not read Dimensions until after Hitchhiker's was published, even though the books are described as "disturbingly similar". In Hitchhiker's, the answer to the question Mortonson is contemplating in What is Life? is 42.